Pharmacy chain with 65 Ky. stores will stop selling tobacco

CVS Caremark pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in all of its 7,600 U.S. stores by Oct. 1. Kentucky has 65 CVS Caremark stores.

This is the first national pharmacy chain to make this decision. “CVS Caremark sets a powerful example,” President Obama said.

“CVS Caremark is continually looking for ways to promote health and reduce the burden of disease,” Troyen A. Brennan, the company’s chief medical officer, said in a press release. “Stopping the sale of cigarettes and tobacco will make a significant difference in reducing the chronic illnesses associated with tobacco use.”

Kentucky has the nation’s highest percentage of adult smokers (28.3%), with 7,800 yearly deaths caused from smoking, and ranks third in youth smoking, says the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Tobacco is the leading cause of premature disease and causes almost 500,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

CVS said it will offer a smoking cessation program this spring to members of its pharmacy benefit management plan. The press release says that seven in 10 smokers say they want to quit and about half attempt to quit each year. Kentucky recently added smoking cessation programs to its Medicaid program for people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty threshold.

CVS posted net revenue of $123.1 billion in 2012. It said it expects to lose $2 billion in revenues annually by ending tobacco sales.

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